Over 150,000 Chelsea fans once signed a petition to bar Anthony Taylor from officiating any more Chelsea matches. However, Taylor is set to return to Premier League action this weekend as Chelsea hosts Manchester City at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. This comes after the FIFA-listed referee’s recent demotion to the Championship by the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) due to an error in his judgment during a 2-2 draw between Wolves and Newcastle last month.
Taylor was sent to the second division after his decision to award Newcastle a penalty was deemed incorrect by the Premier League’s Independent Key Match Incidents Panel. As part of his punishment, he officiated the game between Preston North End and Coventry City last Saturday.
Regrettably for Taylor, his performance in the Championship didn’t help his cause, as he awarded a soft penalty to Preston, who went on to win 3-2. Over the weekend, Gary O’Neil humorously commented on Taylor’s demotion to the Championship before Wolves’ meeting with Sheffield United.
He quipped, “Anthony Taylor’s doing the Championship game this weekend – that’s three referees who’ve been relegated on the back of refereeing us, so you need to be careful when you referee Wolves because you could end up getting relegated the following week.”
Despite his numerous controversial decisions, the PGMOL has decided to reinstate him to the Premier League, assigning him to officiate Chelsea’s crucial clash against Manchester City. Jarred Gillett has been confirmed as the video assistant referee (VAR).
Notably, Chelsea fans are livid about the PGMOL’s “disgraceful” decision, especially considering Taylor’s history of controversial decisions against the Blues. An online petition on Change.org was initiated in August of last year after Chelsea’s 2-2 draw with Tottenham at Stamford Bridge. During that match, Harry Kane equalized in stoppage time after Cristian Romero pulled Marc Cucurella’s hair – an incident that went unpunished and was not overturned by VAR. Mike Dean, who was the VAR official at the time, later admitted that it was a decision he regretted.
Over 160,000 people signed that petition, citing several instances where Chelsea fans felt Taylor had made incorrect decisions during their matches. While football fans worldwide are baffled by the PGMOL’s decision, Mauricio Pochettino, after Monday night’s London derby, suggested that referees are subjected to undue scrutiny.
Pochettino stated, “If I remember, when I was here, I think I started to implement VAR, and I said I do not agree about VAR, but after I supported VAR, and now we need to support, but we need to try to find the best way to use it. It’s always difficult because we can see many things that are difficult to check and review. Today, I think we played for 110 or 120 minutes. I don’t know if it’s one o’clock in the morning or two o’clock now; it’s really tough. But that’s the football that we were open to receiving the technology. I don’t want to remember, but many coaches wanted VAR. And now when it goes against you, we know that it’s a disgrace, and it’s difficult.”
Pochettino added, “I’m not talking about [Mikel] Arteta. The balance is really difficult, but it’s the football that we need to help improve this kind of thing because in a competitive game like today, I think five goals were disallowed. Yes, but you need to check, and then you need to play because when the time is spent checking and then you need to come on with the possibility to play. It’s not an easy situation.”